It seems self-evident to me that James Gunn’s firing was not the direct result of his offensive and stupid online habits from six years ago. At the lowest level of analysis, it is certainly true that Disney’s fundamental reason—their immediate casus belli—for firing Gunn was his pattern of past behaviour online, chiefly his habit of underplaying and joking acceptingly about paedophilia. But Disney almost certainly knew about this behaviour already, or at least already knew about some of it. And Gunn was less than two years away from completing his trilogy of films with the super-corporation, a painless separation between the two was just a matter of time were this behaviour not brought to the surface. This necessitates broadening our level of analysis into a higher resolution, and looking at the string of events that has led us all here—like a historian deciphering the causes of a plague or a war. Doing so uncovers a nauseating reality; James Gunn was fired first and foremost because of his politics.
I am being slightly too promiscuous with my language. Of course Disney is not run by a conservative cabal who were waiting, salivating, at the chance to fire little old progressive Gunn. If anything, the opposite is true of Hollywood; every political fibre in the bones of those who fired Gunn likely panged with regret and solemn disappointment as they let him go. The same cannot be said for the angry mob which publicised and scandalised Gunn’s past. This mob assassinated Gunn with all too much apparent glee.
Mike Cernovich is worthy of endless contempt in his own right, and has been properly attributed the title of “chief culprit” in Gunn’s firing; but he did not did not act in a vacuum—despite how vacuous his mind is. Gunn’s downfall was first set in motion earlier in the week by Donald J. Trump. That’s right: mister Gunn, you’re fired. In all due seriousness, there has been a tangible shift in the political climate, particularly online, since Helsinki. The consecutive, cumulative crises of family separation and the contest over the Supreme Court flared anti-Trump sentiment to a newbreaking point; and now, with the dramatic indictments of 12 new persons in the continued probe into Russian meddling and the surreal discussions between Trump and Russia’s president Putin in Helsinki, Trump’s critics now smell blood in the water. For good reason too. Reacting to this environment, and in the spirit of “the best defence is a good offence,” Trump’s defenders have been more active and aggressive than at any other time in this presidency.
Now that the stage is set, onward to act two: In a respectable attempt to mend our progressively degenerating national conversation, director and actor Mark Duplass directed his liberal followers towards Trump-critical conservative Ben Shapiro. He claimed to have seen Ben Shapiro’s good character first hand. And there is wisdom in the idea of drawing attention to Trump-critical conservatives over Trump loyalists (among which Ben Shapiro is unarguably the most popular and influential, sorry [not sorry] Joe Walsh). If Trump is acting as the catalyst for a hyper-toxic, hyper-partisan discourse, good faith discourse may be only possible between ideological opponents when neither side bases their perceptions on Trump centered issues. The actual result, however, was a wave of nasty toxicity directed at Shapiro. Among those who got involved in the resulting flame war was James Gunn himself, a notoriously vocal Trump opponent.
Considering the climate, all Gunn had to do was stick his head out a little too far, and that is exactly what he did. Now, with a target painted firmly on his head, Cernovich and the other deplorables got to work; but it is important to not forget this would not have happened in another political climate, a climate which the left has been freely abusing up to this point without hesitation (lest we forget the venerable Kevin Williamson and Bari Weiss, or the much overrated Roseanne Barr). Now, suddenly the alt-right was able to weaponise the climate of boycott and mob lynching pioneered by the left, and within a matter of hours James Gunn’s career was destroyed.
I hope, with the facts arrayed in order, a simple fact becomes clear: this is all too dangerous and has to stop. Donald Trump poisoning every facet of our discourse is dangerous and has to stop. The culture of life destruction, a predominantly left-wing creation by the way, serving as retribution for political disagreement is dangerous and has to stop. The use of ideology as a moral warrant to excuse ethical oversteps, and justify outrageous beliefs are mere tool to fight extremist opponents, is dangerous and has to stop.
There is unfortunately no simple, systematic solution. Removing Donald Trump, the catalyst, would not stop the already ensuing reaction. In fact, impeaching Donald Trump would in all likelihood be the single greatest mistake we as a society could make, because the toxicity that would be unleashed in the process would more than likely destroy the entire fabric of American society itself. And it isn’t hard to see the perspective where it is ultimately the left to blame for their own insane discourse. The better solution is for each of us to take responsibility for our own beliefs, and become better human beings. If society is doomed by a mass of moral idiots, at least do your part to slow down the wave.
Freedom of speech is not merely a technicality, it is absolutely essential that proper debate between ideas is not drowned out by moral idiocy. PLEASE STOP.